House of Secrets #109 (July, 1973)

Back in July, 2020, I wrote a post about the 188th issue of DC Comics’ House of Mystery, an issue notable for featuring one of the very first comic-book stories drawn by the Filipino-born artist Tony DeZuñiga to be published in the United States.   As we discussed in that post, DeZuñiga‘s advent at DC in 1970 would ultimately prove highly auspicious — not only for his own individual career, but also for the direction of the whole field of American comics over the next decade or so. 

That’s because, once he’d established himself, DeZuñiga suggested to his editor, Joe Orlando, that DC should look to his homeland for further talent; the Philippines, he explained, had scores of skilled, experienced illustrators who were currently making a considerably lower page rate than their American peers, and they’d be happy to work for DC for more than they were earning at home… which would still be less than DC was paying their U.S.-based artists.  This idea appealed not only to Orlando but to the latter’s boss, DC publisher Carmine Infantino, who was at that time concerned that some of the company’s freelancers were planning a labor action.  (“I understood that some of the boys were going to start some kind of a union, and they were going to pick on DC first,” Infantino told The Comics Journal‘s Gary Groth in 1996.  “They were going to break our back.”)  So the three men — Infantino, Orlando, and DeZuñiga — flew to the capital of the Philippines, Manila, to meet with some of these artists.  After three days of portfolio review and discussion, a deal was worked out, and soon after that, new names began to appear in the credits of DC’s comics — at first, just in the “mystery” (i.e., Comics Code-approved horror) titles edited by Orlando, but then quickly spreading out to other genres and editors.

By the time the subject of today’s post was released, Orlando was relying so heavily upon the Filipino illustrators in his mystery books that it was not uncommon for a new issue to arrive on stands with hardly a trace of American talent (at least on the artistic side) to be found within its pages.  Such was the case with House of Secrets #109, which — beyond its cover by Nick Cardy — was completely pencilled and inked by a couple of talented men working more than eight thousand miles away from DC’s Manhattan offices: Alfredo Alcala and Alex Niño.

When my younger self first encountered Alfredo Alcala’s name in the credits of Secrets of Sinister House #6 (Aug.-Sep., 1972) — which, incidentally, was just about the earliest that any American reader not already familiar with Filipino comics could have encountered it, as SoSH #6 was the first American comic book to come out featuring his work — it could have belonged to a talented eighteen-year-old just starting out, for all I knew.  Such was far from the case, however.

Born in 1925, Alcala had entered the professional ranks of his country’s comics industry in 1948.  By the early 1960s, he was so well established that he and several fellow creators — Antonio Caravana, Amando Castrillo, Nestor and Virgilio Redondo, and Jim Fernandez — started their own publishing company, CRAF.  (This venture could easily be seen as a sort of Philippine predecessor of the U.S.’s much later Image Comics — though, naturally, Alcala and his colleagues never made anywhere near as much money as would Todd McFarlane, et al.)  Among the company’s titles was Alcala Fight Komix, which introduced the creator’s Viking hero Voltar.

Alcala seems to have developed the ability to draw extraordinarily fast relatively early in his career; that speed was even more impressive — and perhaps even a bit suspicious — when one took into account the amount of detail in his linework.  In later years, it’s said, Alcala would frequently relate the story of what transpired when he showed his portfolio to Joe Orlando during that fateful visit to the Philippines taken by the latter, Carmine Infantino, and Tony DeZuñiga circa 1971 (this version of the tale comes from Mark Evanier’s blog, “News from ME”):

Orlando was naturally impressed with the quality of the work he was shown.  He told Alfredo that DC would hire him and asked how many pages per week he could produce.


“Forty,” said Alfredo.


The editor was startled.  The least exhaustible DC artist would be hard-pressed to pencil and ink ten pages in a week.  Then he realized that Alfredo probably assumed he would only pencil or only ink.  “No, no,” Orlando said. “We want you to do all the art…pencil, ink, even lettering.”


“I see,” Alfredo muttered.  “I pencil, I ink, I letter?”


“Yes,” Orlando nodded. “Now, how many pages per week do you think you can do?”


“Forty,” said Alfredo.


Again, the editor was startled.  Obviously, there was some sort of misunderstanding here . He figured that the artist before him was thinking in terms of very simple pages with only two or three panels on each and no detail.  Fortunately, Orlando had brought along with him, several dozen pages of original art from past DC books.  He showed Alfredo pages by Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan and others.


“We want work like this…these many panels per page, and this detailed,” Orlando explained.


“Oh,” Alfredo nodded. “You want me to pencil, ink and letter pages like this?”




“Well,” Alfredo explained.  “That changes things.”


“I would think so,” Orlando sniffed.  “Now then…how many pages a week do you think you can do?”


“Eighty,” said Alfredo.


Skeptical and disbelieving, Orlando put Alfredo down for 40 pages per week.  Soon after, when Alcala pages began arriving at DC at that rate, it was assumed by some that “Alfredo P. Alcala” was the joint moniker of perhaps a half-dozen hands.  Not so — as anyone who later saw Alfredo sketching at a convention can attest.

House of Secrets #109’s “Museum of Nightmares” — pencilled, inked, and, yes, even lettered (according to the Grand Comics Database) by Alfredo Alcala, comprises 8 pages.  There are two other Alcala stories that came out from DC the same month as HoS #109 (i.e., April, 1973); all together, the three tales represent 21 pages of artwork.  Seeing as how that’s considerably less than the 160 or so pages per month indicated by the above anecdote, does that mean that Alcala may have exaggerated a smidge about the quantity of his weekly output?  Could be… but hey, who’s to say that the artist wasn’t turning out the pages way faster than DC could get them into print?

While Alcala seems to have handled every aspect of the graphic side of this story’s production by himself (with the exception of the coloring), it evidently took two writers to shoulder the literary burden.  I suspect that neither the name of Michael Pellowski (misspelled here as “Pellowsky”) nor that of Maxene Fabe is terribly familiar to most contemporary comics fans, but both showed up fairly regularly in DC’s mystery titles in the early 1970s.  As to what they’ve been up to since then: Pellowski, after several years of working for DC (with occasional side jobs for Archie, Charlton, and Marvel), ultimately settled in for a long stint writing for Archie — one that, as far as I can tell, continues to this day — and has also written a number “real” books over the decades.  Fabe, on the other hand, seems to have largely left the comics field around 1975 (a couple of later credits are for stories that probably hung around in inventory for a while), though she, like Pellowski, has written for other media, and continues to be active.

Alcala was an admirer of illustrators like Franklin Booth, J.C. Leyendecker, and Howard Pyle, all of whom flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and there’s an “old fashioned” quality to his own style that makes it especially appropriate for period material such as the present tale.

Arriving at the murder scene with the two uniformed gendarmes, Inspector Krupou recognizes Cardoti’s signature in the pattern of the deceased woman’s wounds.  Someone must be imitating the late murderer, he assumes.  But the mystery is compounded later that same night, when the killer claims another victim but leaves his knife at the scene — and Krupou recognizes the weapon as Cardoti’s.  The detective resolves to trap the murderer before he can strike again…

Krupou’s toss sends his assailant sprawling, allowing him to get a good look at the other man’s face — which he’s stunned to find is a dead ringer for Cardoti’s.  Suddenly, the murderer leaps to his feet, and then proceeds to lead the inspector on a chase through the dark city streets.  When the sun finally rises, Krupou is relieved, figuring Cardoti will find it harder now to hide; but then…

Early in his career, Alcala had worked in many genres, including humor; and that background seems to subtly inform his handling here of what would seem to be, on its face, a purely dramatic scene.  (I especially enjoy the facial expressions given on this page to the House of Secrets‘ host, Abel, whose tiny head consistently accompanies the narrative captions throughout the story.)

Um, what?  If you’re like me, you’ve come to the end of this story and you have a few questions.  Like, if Cardoti’s victims were made out of wax the same as he was, why did they have bloody wounds realistic enough to fool a couple of police officers, while his severed neck looked like a simple wooden peg? And while Cardoti’s ignominious death is apparently well known to the citizenry of Paris, those same people seem to be under the impression that the policeman who shot him five years ago, Krupou, is still alive.  So when did Krupou die?  And why does Gardou have his very fresh-looking corpse lying in an open coffin in his workshop?  Hmm… maybe Michael Pellowski knew what he was doing when he transitioned over to writing about Archie, Jughead, and the gang… though, to be fair, it’s entirely likely that none of these questions occurred to me when I first read this story at the age of fifteen, back in April, 1973.  In any event, whatever flaws “Museum of Nightmares” may have as a piece of pictorial fiction, I think it’s fair to say that none of them can be laid at the feet of its penciller/inker/letterer, Alfredo Alcala.

The artist of House of Secrets #109’s second and final story, Alex Niño, was just as much an unknown to me as Alcala was when his name first started showing up in DC’s comics in 1972 (for the record, Niño’s first story for the U.S. market appeared one month before Alcala’s did, in House of Mystery #204 [Jul., 1972]).  But while Niño no more fit the description of an 18-year-old beginner than did Alcala, he did belong to a younger generation of Filipino comics creators.

Born in 1940 — just eight years before Alcala’s first professional sale — Niño had entered the komiks field around 1960.  Initially working with a number of different writers, the young artist eventually went solo with his own creation, a fantasy series called “Gruaga”, which ran in Pioneer Komiks circa 1967.  That may sound like success, but establishing a reputation — not to mention a sustainable career — in an industry dominated by such seasoned (and prolific) stars as Nestor Redondo and Alfredo Alcala was evidently a challenge.  As Nino explained in a 2004 interview (published in Comic Book Artist v.2 #4):

I belong to the young warriors who ached to go head-to-head with the Nestors, Alfredos, etc.  We know it’s a no-win situation — but we could always settle for leftovers!

Despite the professional struggles, by 1971 Alex Niño was well enough established to be among the relatively small group of Filipino artists who began getting work from DC following Infantino, Orlando, and DeZuñiga‘s trip to Manila.  Interestingly, his earliest material to appear in American comics — House of Mystery #204’s “To Die for Magda!” — is very much in the vein of the “old guard” represented by Redondo and Alcala, featuring a more realistic and lushly detailed approach to rendering than we’ll find in the story we’re about to look at today.  Perhaps emboldened by being the first Filipino artist following DeZuñiga to be assigned a continuing feature (“Captain Fear” in the Orlando-edited Adventure Comics), Niño very quickly began to bring more of his own highly idiosyncratic and experimental sensibility to his graphic storytelling.  Take, for example, the opening splash page to “…And in Death There Is No Escape!”, which immediately arrests the eye with its extraordinary central image of… a man walking.

The scripter of our tale, John Albano, was a mainstay of Joe Orlando’s titles in the early 1970s, and a considerably more prolific one than either Michael Pellowski or Maxene Fabe (although, interestingly enough, he eventually followed Pellowski’s example by relocating to Archie Comics); he’s probably best remembered today as the co-creator (with Tony DeZuñiga) of Jonah Hex.

Hannibal Hangle proceeds to spend the next several hours drowning his sorrows, and scheming how he’ll prove his critics wrong by investing “his” money — i.e., the money he’s inherited from his three dead (or otherwise discarded) wives — to produce his own play.  Eventually, he exits the bar to find his carriage driver, Edward, sitting slumped forward in his seat, his face hidden in shadow underneath his cap.  Hangle shouts at Edward to wake him up, then orders him to drive them straight home…

Is Anthony the brother of Hannibal’s third wife, who committed suicide by leaping to her death, or of the second Mrs. Hangle, who slashed her wrists?  We’re never told, and perhaps it doesn’t really matter…

Hangle gropes his way forward through the fog, until suddenly he hears a voice calling out for help.  Grudgingly, he follows the sound to its source…

The old man explains that he is certain of success due to his possession of a certain key, given to him “by a Caribbean witchdoctor!…”

Simply reading the words on page 9, there’s little to suggest the absolutely bonkers visuals that Niño has delivered to illustrate them.  Let’s be thankful that “strange and eerie shadows that leap about insanely” was evidently all that was needed to unleash the artist’s powerfully phantasmagorical imagination.

Dismissing his maid Marie’s concerns, Hannibal Hangle leaves his house for a meeting with his accountant and a theatrical agent on the topic of financing a play.  The meeting doesn’t go well, and on leaving the agent’s office, the accountant reminds his client of what he’d told him before: “Only extremely rich people can afford to produce their own play.”  Even with his multiple inheritances from his three unfortunate wives, Hangle just doesn’t have the cash he needs.

But our protagonist is determined that he is going to be a star, no matter how much money it requires.  He reflects: “All I need is to marry Elizabeth Morgan!  She’s been madly in love with me for years.”  Unfortunately, Elizabeth’s father detests Hangle.  What to do?

Returning home, Hangle complains to Marie that he’s suffering terribly.  She immediately offers to call for the doctor to return…

Much later the same eveining, Hangle returns home, silently complaining to himself about how dull Elizabeth is, but then reminding himself that he needs her… at least until he can get his hands on the Morgan fortune.

Greeting Marie, he asks if she has good news to report.  “I… did as you… wanted, Mr. Hangle,” the distraught woman confirms, “and may God forgive me!”

The final panel of the story presents the same scene as the comic’s cover, more or less.  So does the cover spoil the ending?  I suppose that might be the case for some, although I also suspect that most readers of House of Secrets #109 will have pretty much forgotten about Nick Cardy’s cover illustration by the time they get to this point.  For my own money, that last image of Hannibal Hangle, “the Immortal Monstrosity” — now and forever a star! — is so delectably gruesome that there’s just no way anything could possibly spoil it.

Coming in at fifteen pages, “…And in Death There Is No Escape!” is too long by at least a third.  (I get the impression that the plot has been stretched out for the purpose of adding four or five more deaths to Hannibal Hangle’s charge, as though Albano was afraid that we wouldn’t think his protagonist had earned his hideous fate merely by driving two wives to suicide and another to madness.)  But it’s still an effective chiller of the “just deserts” variety, at least in my opinion — and, of course, if you’re attuned to Alex Niño’s aesthetic, every panel of his artwork here is a pleasure to behold.

The initial phase of the “Filipino invasion” of American comics — which your humble blogger defines as the period when DC Comics not only had their pick of artists from the archipelagic nation, but had virtually exclusive access to them — lasted until around the middle of 1974,* at which point the metaphorical wall seemed to come down, and talents such as Niño, Alcala, DeZuñiga, and others began to show up in the comics of Marvel and other companies as well as in DC’s.  This shift may have stemmed in part from problems some of the artists had with their original deal with DC, which required them to go through a Philippines-based office to receive and submit work to the publisher’s editors in New York.**  Eventually, a number of artists opted to follow DeZuñiga‘s example by relocating to the United States (as Alcala did in 1976, and Niño in 1983).  In all of this, the artists were clearly looking to develop the most professionally advantageous situation for themselves, and you can hardly blame them for that.

Of course, you might also still reasonably wonder what, if any, effect all of this had on the American artists who were already toiling in the comics industry before the Filipino invasion got underway; after all, Carmine Infantino stated on the record that a major impetus in recruiting the new, foreign-based illustrators was his fear of being hit by an at-home labor action that would “break our back“.  I’ve seen it suggested that the very fact that the Academy of Comic Book Arts eventually petered out without ever becoming the strong labor organization envisioned by one of its presidents, Neal Adams, indicates that Infantino’s gambit paid off.  And that could be true, I suppose; on the other hand, we shouldn’t forget that correlation and causation are, in the end, two different things.

That the Filipino invasion changed the face of American comics in the 1970s is beyond doubt; whether those artists’ arrival (and willingness to work for a substantially lower page rate, at least in the beginning) cost other artists money — either in the form of taking actual assignments, or in inadvertently depressing the average industry-wide page rate — is a lot harder to determine.  But while I can’t claim to have done anything approximating a scientific survey, a quick check of credits via Mike’s Amazing World of Comics indicates that most if not all of the artists who were contributing regularly to DC’s mystery books (the industry segment that saw the most immediate and dramatic impact from the first wave of the Filipino invasion) around the beginning of 1972 continued to work regularly in comics well into the decade — if not for DC, then for someone else.

In actuality, rather than by replacing their existing labor force with cheaper, foreign-based workers, DC seems to have responded to the sudden expansion of their artistic talent pool circa 1972 by expanding the size of their product line.  In the month of January, 1972, the company published 30 individual comic books; a year later, the number of issues released in January was 39.  It seems reasonable to conclude that DC’s suddenly having significantly more pages to fill each month must have meant more opportunities for all their freelance artists, not just the newcomers from the Philippines.

Admittedly, that fact doesn’t address the question of whether the advent of the Filipinos had a dampening effect on the average page rate across the industry.  Basic economics seems to suggest that having a whole lot of new folks who were willing to do the same work for less pay than the old folks were getting would have such an effect; still, one can hardly fault the Filipino artists for their country’s having a lower overall standard of living, or for taking advantage of a good economic opportunity for themselves and their families when such was offered to them.  And, of course, a desire for higher pay and better working conditions was common to all those creators working in the comics industry at the time; in that sense, they were really all in it together.

In the end, of course, it’s the comics themselves that endure, half a century on.  And whatever retrospective judgments we might be inclined to make today about the business practices of certain publishers and freelancers fifty years ago, surely we must also allow that when it comes to the art of the best of the Filipino creators, such as Alfredo Alcala and Alex Niño, their impact on American comic books was an unqualfiedly positive one.


*There were outliers, of course.  As we’ve mentioned previously, the Philippines-born Ernie Chan was working for Marvel as an inker as early as September, 1972; but Chan has moved to the United States in 1970, and doesn’t seem to have been involved in the deal DC brokered in Manila circa 1971.  And the educational publisher Pendulum Press used Nestor Redondo and other Filipino artists as the primary illustrators for their line of “Pendulum Illustrated Classics”, which began appearing in 1973; but as these were marketed to schools, most comics readers didn’t become aware of them until 1976, when Marvel began reprinting them as Marvel Classics Comics.

**Prior to his passing in 2013, Carmine Infantino stated in several venues (which, in addition to the 1996 Comics Journal interview already referenced above, include a 2007 interview with Jamie Coville, as well as his own 2001 autobiography, The Amazing World of Carmine Infantino) that the people originally in charge of managing the workflow in and out of the Philippines based office, Tony DeZuñiga and his wife Mary, cheated the other artists by withholding 80% or more of DC’s intended page rate, rather than the 10%-20% (the number varies between accounts) service fee the publisher had agreed to.  After Infantino learned what was happening, he withdrew that responsibility from the DeZuñigas and gave it to Nestor Redondo, who (per the Coville interview) “started doing the same thing.”

These same allegations have been echoed by the son of Alfredo Alcala (who died in 2000), Alfredo Alcala, Jr., in an interview published in Alter Ego #172 (Nov., 2021).  To the best of my knowledge, however, they have never been addressed on the record by any of the artists directly involved, including DeZuñiga (d. 2012) and Redondo (d. 1995)… which seems unfortunate, if only for the sake of comic book history.  (If anyone reading this post has further information on these matters, please feel free to share it via the comments section below.)


  1. Steve McBeezlebub · April 26

    Huh. I knew of a few artists being part of the Philipine Invasion but not most. Weird thing is, even without knowing there was a connection or that some of them were from the Philippines, I’ve always been meh on all their art. Story has always been king to me so none of them ever deterred me from buying a book but they couldn’t get me to buy a book unless I liked the writer and/or character. Well, except for Dezuniga. I know other inkers like Austin, Palmer, and Sinnot always overwhelmed the art of anyone they inked but Dezuniga making every artist look like it was his solo effort turned me off much more than the others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · April 26

      Ah, well… different strokes, I guess. Thanks for reading anyway, Steve!


  2. B Smith · April 26

    It would seem from your account that the Filipino artists worked almost exclusively on mystery or war strips – did any of them get near any superhero work? The only one that comes to mind is Alcala doing art for Captain Marvel #35…looks like the Powers-That-Be still considered non-super work important enough to try an cut corners economically.

    Liked by 1 person

    • frasersherman · April 26

      Tony DeZuniga worked on the Black Orchid strip in Adventure Comics. Fit the unusual tone of the strip well.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · April 26

      Most of the Filipino artists didn’t get a lot of the superhero pencilling gigs, it’s true. One major exception is Ernie Chan, who eventually became DC’s primary cover artist, and also pencilled a number of Batman stories. Another artist, Rudy Nebres, had a stint drawing Doctor Strange over at Marvel. Also, as frasersherman points out, there’s Tony DeZuñiga on Black Orchid. (Nestor Redondo drew a couple of stories for her feature, too.)

      They did a bit better as inkers — DeZuñiga did a good bit of work on Thor and other Marvel superhero titles later in the decade; Alcala inked a number of Hulk stories around then also, then inked Batman for a while in the early ’80s. (Alcala also did full art for a single issue of Doctor Strange, #19, in addition to the Captain Marvel book you mentioned.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Honestly, I’ve always felt the rich, illustrative style of the Filipino artists who broke into the American comic book market in the early 1970s was a bit of an awkward fit for superhero stories, and I much prefer their works in various other genres such as horror, war, romance and Westerns.

        I feel that perhaps the one notable exception was Vampirella, which I’ve always felt has straddled horror and superheroes, as the evocative, atmospheric work and penchant for depicting stunningly beautiful women that so many of the Filipino artists demonstrated was incredibly well suited to depicting the adventures of Vampi.

        In any case, even though I started reading comic books regularly in the late 1980s, when I discovered the work of Alcala, Nino, et al via back issues and reprints, as well as by new stories some of the Filipino artists were working on in the 1990s, I very quickly developed a deep appreciation for all of their work.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. frasersherman · April 26

    The end of that first story would have bugged me back then — it’s an example of why I was never able to get into the horror anthology books.
    That second story’s art is memorable, though like Steve, art was rarely a selling point for me compared to story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · April 26

    Well, as an aspiring artist myself, the art was always the selling point of a comic for me. If the pictures weren’t pretty or if the layout was confusing, I don’t care who wrote it, I wouldn’t read it. In fact, Alan and I have had numerous discussions over the years about my unwillingness to read truly amazing comics stories, such as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, simple because I don’t always like the art. However, in the case of the Fillipino invasion, I was quite happy with what I was seeing. Nino’s work was a little “out there” for me at age 15, but I became a huge Alcala fan immediately and loved his work years later on the b&w Conan book. I’m embarrassed to say so, but I had no idea these guys were from the Phillipines, however. I just assumed, as a fifteen year old kid, that with names like “Alcala” and “Nino” and “Redondo,” these guys were all Hispanic and I never heard anything to contradict that until I was grown. Mea Culpa.

    As to the stories in this particular comic, both were beautiful to look at, but as you pointed out, Alan, the ending of the Alcala story doesn’t hold up and the Nino story is too long. Both are extremely pretty, though, and that buys them a lot of forgiveness in my book.

    Speaking of forgiveness, I’m really disheartened to hear that some of these guys were ripping th others off in the handling of their page rates. That’s just sad. It almost feels like a story for the House of Mystery, doesn’t it? A couple of dishonest artists take advantage of their fellow illustrators to make a buck only to be introduced to their new…ah, “literary agent…” a Mr. Abel, who then teaches them the error of their ways in a tale drawn by the very artists they were ripping off. Bwa-ha-ha. Sorry, I got carried away. I’m going to lie down now. Great post, Alan.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Alan Stewart · April 26

      I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a clue that these guys were from the Philippines either, Don — at least not as early as 1973. I have an idea that some basic biographical info on them started showing up in text pages at both Marvel and DC as the decade progressed, but for those first few years, I probably figured they were from either Latin America or Spain.

      Liked by 2 people

      • frasersherman · April 26

        I first encountered Redondo in Swamp Thing and IIRC they stated up front he was Filipino. DeZuniga I assumed was American with a slightly exotic surname; I’m not sure I realized otherwise until reading this.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Brian Morrison · April 26

    Your comment that DC published 9 more comics in January ‘73 compared to January ‘72 gave me pause for thought. My gut told me that they had published fewer. As I only bought their super-hero comics I wondered if the expansion had been in the other genres and if their superhero output had actually declined as I’d believed. Also, at this time DC had boosted the number of reprint only books that they were publishing and I wondered if that accounted for the increase in total comics published in the month. So I took a deep dive into the two months in question using Mike’s Amazing World ( I just love that resource) and found the following:

    Jan 72:
    Total comics published – 30
    Fully reprinted material – 4
    Of the New Material:
    Superheroes – 12
    Love – 6
    Mystery/Horror – 5
    War – 2
    Western – 1

    Jan 73:
    Total comics published – 39
    Fully reprinted material – 9
    Of the New Material:
    Superheroes – 10
    Mystery/Horror – 10
    Love – 4
    War – 4
    Tarzan – 2.

    The categorisation is subjective – how do you classify Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love (I categorised it as Love), Phantom Stranger (I chose Mystery, others could have chosen Superhero), and Weird War (again I chose Mystery but it could equally have been categorised as war)? I also categorised JLA 97 as new although the bulk of the story was a reprint of the Origin of the JLA from issue 9 with new framing sequences with linked to the totally new material in the previous and subsequent issues. So all the attributions can be questioned.

    I believe the figures do show an increase in the total new material books published from 26 to 30.
    A decline in books dedicated to superheroes and love genres and a big increase in the number of Mystery/Horror and War genre books. As the Philipino artists (mostly/but not exclusively) illustrated books in the Mystery/Horror genre, this totally backs up your comments.

    The continuing decline in the number of superhero hero comics that DC was publishing each month would lead me to going “all in” Marvel in 1974 but that was some months away yet. I was already buying The Avengers and Defenders regularly and picking up other Marvel Comics cheap in second hand book shops.

    I remember seeing Nino’s work on Captain Fear in Adventure Comics and although I enjoyed it I found it quite unsettling but I can see here how well suited he was to the Mystery/Horror genre.
    I also remember buying two copies of Adventure Comics 428 featuring the first appearance of the Black Orchid because I enjoyed it so much and thought that it might become a classic. De Zuniga’s work played a big part in that. I had hoped against hope that you might have dedicated a blog post to it as it came out 50 years ago this month but alas, I suspect you didn’t pick that one up.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Alan Stewart · April 26

      Wow! Thanks for the detailed analysis of the Mike’s Amazing World data, Brian. Frankly, I’m breathing a sigh of relief it showed that the amount of new vs. reprint material increased by at least four books’ worth, so I won’t have to go back and delete that whole paragraph. 🙂

      As to Black Orchid, I’m afraid you are correct. For whatever reason, my younger self turned up his nose at Orlando’s Adventure Comics — at least until the Spectre showed up — and so I didn’t see B.O. until the feature moved over to Phantom Stranger.


  6. frednotfaith2 · April 26

    I knew just a little bit about the “Filipino Invasion” of the 1970s, but not nearly as in-depth as you provided here, Alan! To my recall, the first of the Filipino artists I became aware of was Alfredo Alcala from his art on Gerber’s ghost pirate story in Man-Thing (issues 16 & 17, I think). Admittedly, it looked a bit weird to me, and my younger self didn’t really like it, but as with a lot of things I grew to like his art (pencils or inking) as I got older and saw more of his work. As with most of us fans, at the time I had no idea he was Filipino.

    As I’ve mentioned in previous postings, much of my extended family includes Filipinos — my dad’s 2nd, 3rd & 4th (and current) wives were all Filipinas, as was my brother Terry’s high school girlfriend (who left him the day they graduated); his first wife (whom he also met in high school in Lemoore, CA — small town with a big Navy base and quite a few Filipinos among the population); and his 2nd wife (who was the younger sister of his high school girlfriend!), as my half-Filipino nephews and niece; and the wife of my dad’s youngest brother, my Uncle Tim, who now lives in the Philippines (he and my Aunt Delia met in Los Angeles shortly after she arrived there from P.I. circa 1974).

    Sad but all too typical that some of those Filipino artists abused their positions to cheat others of their rightful earnings. Too much of that going on just about everywhere, then, before and now.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It’s always depressing when we hear about comic book publishers cheating creators, and it’s happened so often, so that makes it especially disheartening to see actual creators then doing the exact same thing to their fellow artists & writers.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Chris A. · April 26

    These are merely allegations about the Filipino artists cheating their fellows. Nestor Redondo was held in the highest esteem in his country as a man of fine character to whom other komiks creators came to settle disputes. His sons, such as Reuel, are still with us today. That is nothing less than a slanderous allegation about Redondo. He was a fine, upstanding man, and besides his solo work, he ran a studio with his brothers Frank and Virgilio, often mentoring younger Filipino artists on projects like DC’s Ragman in the late ’70s.


    • Alan Stewart · April 26

      These claims can’t be dismissed as “merely allegations”, Chris A. These are statements made on the record by Carmine Infantino, who was the Publisher of DC Comics in the era we’re discussing and had first-hand knowledge of events.

      Personally, I’d prefer that the statements *not* be true, as I’d rather remember both DeZuñiga and Redondo simply as talented artists, and not as talented artists who may also have taken advantage of their fellow professionals. But what’s needed here is a rebuttal from someone who, like Infantino, was involved in the situation. Just calling Infantino’s statements “slanderous” and asserting that Redondo “was a fine, upstanding man” isn’t enough to settle the matter, I’m afraid.

      If you have any links or other references to interviews (or other venues) where any of the Redondo family — or any of the other Filipino artists — have discussed Infantino’s remarks, I’d love to add that information to the post.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Chris A. · April 28

    I asked David Spurlock who was with Carmine infantino in the interview, and he said, “According to Carmine, after he fired the DeZunigas, he reached out to Nestor (his favorites were Nino and Nestor) and asked him if he would take over as the middleman. Nestor agreed. Carmine said Nestor gradually started doing it too — taking a larger percentage than agreed. Kind of like Heritage Auctions taking a fee from both the seller and the buyer. But Nestor didn’t do it near as much as DeZuniga. Given more thought, and Carmine’s respect for Nestor, we might not have mentioned that part in such an off-the-cuff comment as it could be interpreted more negatively than meant. “

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree that the end of the first story really does not make much sense, and that the second story is a bit too long & meandering, but the artwork by Alcala and Nino on the two tales is very well done and helps make up for the deficiencies in the writing.

    As for the Nick Cardy cover possibly giving away the ending of “And in Death There is No Escape” I don’t see that as too much of a problem, because I think a lot of readers may have gotten absorbed in the actual stories, and by the time they reach the end of the issue have probably more or less forgotten about what’s on the cover. Plus that last page is rendered so horrifically by Nino that even if you do know it’s coming it probably still packs a serious gut punch.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Jim Kosmicki · 29 Days Ago

    I always liked Gerry Talaoc’s work – and since the Unknown Soldier’s bandages always gave that character a bit of a mystery book vibe, he fit that character pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. spencerd · 28 Days Ago

    Great post, as always. Seems like I remember getting my taste of these artists in Savage Sword of Conan and the like. Always thought, like you mentioned above, that the style really fit the “world” the comic was set in.

    Liked by 1 person

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